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3 posts from September 2008


Pet food recall, September 2008

There has been a recent recall of some dry pet foods made by Mars Petcare US, due to possible contaminination by Salmonella. The FDA notice and the list of potentially affected pet foods can be found here. The recall includes some Pedigree and Ol' Roy food, as well as others.

If you suspect your pet may have eaten contaminated food, or your pet is showing any worrisome symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite, please bring your pet to the veterinarian right away, and be sure to let your vet know that your pet ate a food that is on the recall list.

Salmonella also affects humans, who in this case could be sickened due to handling contaminated food, or by contact with an infected pet. If you are concerned about infection in yourself or your family, please contact your own doctor. For questions, you can call 1-877-568-4463.


Speaking of diabetic cats...

A while back, I talked about a relatively new kind of insulin that is doing wonders for diabetic cats. It's called glargine insulin (the brand name is Lantus.) I continue to be thrilled with the results we are seeing with this insulin for our diabetic felines. In studies done comparing the use of glargine insulin to other insulins for diabetic cats, the results with glargine insulin were far better - in fact, in one study, all newly diagnosed diabetic cats treated with glargine stopped needing insulin within four months!

I am seeing the same thing in my patients: all the new diabetic cats I have put on glargine have gone into remission (no longer needed insulin); some within just a few days, some after a few weeks or months.

There are some important things to be aware of. One, for the best chance of remission, the cat should be given glargine twice a day. This insulin can be administered once a day, in situations where the cat's family absolutely cannot give twice-a-day injections, but the chance of remission is reduced in tis case. Second, it is also very important what the cat is fed - it seems that carbohydrates in the diet can lead to feline diabetes (among other health problems), and diabetic cats should eat a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, unless other health issues preclude this (speak to your vet). Because dry food is generally high in carbs, it is felt that diabetic cats (and perhaps all cats) should eat moist food (such as canned, pouch, or a balanced homemade high protein/low carb diet). Third, the chance of remission from diabetes is highest in cats starting insulin for the first time. If a cat has already been diabetic for years, switching the cat to glargine may be desirable if the cat's diabetes has been difficult to regulate, but there will not be the same likelihood of remission as we see in newly diagnosed diabetic cats.

To achieve the highest chance of remission, the diabetic cat should be closely monitored and the insulin dose adjusted carefully. Most diabetic cats have the capability to produce insulin, but often are not making enough because of what is called "beta cell exhaustion".  This refers to the fact that insulin is made in the body by cells called beta cells, which are found in the pancreas. The theory is that when a cat's food contains too many carbs, these cells are forced to produce insulin at a very high rate, and basically burn out. Once the beta cells are too worn out to produce adequate insulin, the cat becomes diabetic. By placing the cat on insulin injections, we give the beta cells a chance to rest and recover. We need to make sure that we are giving the cat the correct insulin dose to ensure that the beta cells really get the rest they need; if we give an inadequate dose and the beta cells must still attempt to produce additional insulin, they may not recover. So if you have a diabetic kitty, follow your veterinarian's instructions closely and be sure the dose is adjusted as needed.

Vets have various ways of adjusting a cat's insulin dose: some vets teach the cat's owner how to take a tiny drop of blood from the ear (it's much easier than it sounds and many of my clients do this with no problem using human diabetic supplies). Other vets have the owner test the urine for sugar with dipsticks, and adjust the dose based on the results. Whatever method your veterinarian uses, the most important thing is to follow up regularly and adjust the insulin dose as needed. This is also important since with proper treatment your cat may stop needing insulin at some point, and you don't want to continue giving insulin in this case!

If your cat's diabetes is difficult to regulate, or you and your vet want some expert advice regarding your cat's diabetes, you may decide to consult a veterinary internal medicine specialist. Often an internist can help to fine-tune a cat's diabetes, and help increase the chance of remission. 


Hero Kitty

Today, one of my clients wrote to me with an amazing story. One of her cats is diabetic, and this morning he suffered a diabetic crisis—his blood sugar dropped dangerously low after his insulin injection. Another one of the cats in the house alerted my client’s son Ivan in the nick of time, thus saving the diabetic cat Ebony from seizures, coma, or worse. Hooray for this true kitty heroine!!

Dear Dr. Murray,

Yesterday, I got a frantic phone call at work from my son, Ivan.  He told me that our diabetic 16 year old kitty, Ebony, was experiencing another diabetic crisis...twitching, unable to walk, glassy eyes/unresponsive.  Ivan went into the appropriate steps of giving Karo syrup, confining Ebony to the kitchen so he couldn't hurt himself and providing him water and special food.  Even after all that, when I raced Ebony to our local vet, Ebony's blood count was still only 58. 

But here's the amazing part of the story!  My son was sleeping soundly at the time Ebony's crisis began.  Luisa, the 8- year-old calico kitty that we named in your honor, is the one that can be credited with saving Ebony's life!  Luisa never, ever comes to Ivan when he's sleeping.  Ivan knew that something must be very wrong because she just wouldn't give up on waking him by walking up to his face and "talking"...and when she was successful in rousing him, she raced downstairs, as if to say "follow me".  I shudder to think what would have happened to Ebony without Luisa's kitty intuition and Ivan's common sense to react to her summons.

I don't know if you remember but this is actually the 2nd time she has saved the life of one of her "brothers".  Luisa was only four weeks old when I found her amongst a litter of kittens that had already passed away before I came across them.  Her loud meowing drew me over to the drainpipe and I tried to pick her up but she wiggled free and ran over to one of the other kittens...a yellow and white one my son later named "David".  She wouldn't stop nudging him with her paw and meowing.  I was shocked to see him move and realized she was telling him to "Get up!  We're rescued!"

Who could have known that your namesake would continue to save lives, just as you do!  smile

Warmest regards,

The Trembows

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